Monday, June 15, 2015

A Child Isn't a Joke

The situation would be frowned upon if it was about race or gender, but if it’s about children, society has no problem cracking a joke.
A seemingly harmless Facebook status about how hard it is to concentrate on work when surrounded by cute kids opens a gateway for generalized comments and jokes, such as “they’ll be doing something disgusting soon enough” or “Imagine them 10 years down the road stealing your car.” Somehow, even just the two word response “beat them” is considered funny. 
What? When did it become okay to make that sort of comment? 
Why is an age slur different than a race one and when are we as a society going to start treating our children as respected citizens?
2015 started off with many heated debates regarding free speech and what it meant. With the horrifying tragedies in Paris, some still questioned whether ridicule and criticism regarding any group was a fair representation of free speech. I have a problem with the statement “people should learn how to take a joke” especially since we are consistently battling bullying for our children in the schools. It feels like a mixed message.
We tell our children not to hurt others and to respect differences. We tell them to help others smaller than themselves, to see people as individuals and not stereotype groups. We encourage them to accept that others have different beliefs and cultures, but then, in grown up society, we can mock, sneer and jeer at whomever and whatever as long as it has a certain quality of wit. 
When I commented on the Facebook comment thread, simply saying that my kids were too incredible to be distracted from, I was told that “everyone loves their kids, but they like to laugh too.” I was being a killjoy. Because I was suggesting that children, individual human beings, who are at the beginning of learning about life, who are often struggling to adapt to adult surroundings and being expected to know how to be without being taught in simple steps, CHILDREN shouldn’t be laughed at, labelled as simply cute and stereotyped as people headed for trouble.
Is it social media that has us so cut off from basic consideration for others, both individually and as groups? Are we so desperately in search of that funny status that we’ll make fun of our loved ones or anyone standing too close?
I don’t even understand how it comes about. Why are children so often, generalized negatively when we were all young once? It’s not like different cultures where unless you live and breathe them it’s difficult to fully feel what they are. I remember being a child and my attempts at learning as I went along. Generalizing how I was going to behave based on my age often did me harm. In fact it left me isolated and confused. You remember, don’t you, that feeling of walking into a store and the staff watching you intently, and convinced you were going to sneak something into a pocket, all the while knowing it was usually the least suspecting that would shoplift.
In my mind any ridiculing of any stereotyped version of a group does one thing: it perpetuates more of that perspective. The power of words is that they create, they empower their message. The more we put focus on the mess children can create in their explorations, rather than on the excitement of their explorations themselves, the more it’s the mess we see. The more we comment on our children’s downfalls, even generalized downfalls which other people have made a joke of, the more we look to our children to back it up and the more we have a distorted view of who they are. It is like a projector goes up between us and them, and the image we watch of them is simply an image, no longer capable of personal connection.
My children and I laugh all the time. We joke about and have been known to raise passing people’s eyebrows with our giggles and goofy behaviour. However, they are being raised with the care not to make fun of things. If you make fun of something beautiful, even a fairytale, you will never see it the same way again. If you mock something then be prepared for your perspective to change forever. We’ve all occasionally watched a skit on a show like Saturday Night Live and repeat it in our minds with a laugh whenever we hear about the issue or person again. It’s the comic’s greatest legacy and responsibility to shift perspective to the humorous side. Do we want to change perspective of how we see our children?
We’re an ever evolving and developing human race. We are suppose to be forever moving forward, but we have to ask ourselves, can’t we learn that bullying is bullying, no matter the age or the cause, and that no victim should have to be told to “take a joke”. Verbal abuse is often in the form of ridicule and it is abuse, whether directed at one person or at a group, and generalization of children, like any group of people, simply creates walls against seeing people as individuals.

Our children, just like ourselves, are individuals. They sometimes make messes, make mistakes and occasionally act ridiculously cute, just like us. It’s all the process of this thing called life and all of us often need a helping hand of support not to be the butt of a Facebook joke.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Opportunities in Disappointments

Her eyes filled with tears when she found out she didn’t get the role she wanted in the local theatre production and my first reaction was to go ask the director why she hadn’t and demand to give her what she wanted. I bite my tongue while she cried in my arms.
The extremes of parenting:  a few generations ago kids were told to toughen up, the world wasn’t run for them and they shouldn’t expect special treatment, now we run around them, trying to make everything perfect for them, telling them they can achieve anything, attract anything, do anything. We tell them the sky’s the limit and then run around killing ourselves trying to prove it and make it happen.
Extremes of anything aren’t healthy and its time we stopped kidding ourselves. We aren’t in charge of our children’s lives and maybe it’s time we had more faith in their capabilities.
It’s never a question of toughening up, but it’s time we remind ourselves that we are fueling the instant gratification fire of the 21st century within our children. They are used to Ask and receive at the lightening speed of putting food in the microwave, seeing new movies online and having questions answered at their finger tips. They have a fast flow of in and out, interested to bored, want to can’t be bothered. On the other hand, we are the generation of parents who know it’s not healthy to let them cry it out when they were babies (it’s now scientifically backed up), but we carry that though into their teens. We don’t like to see them upset, we don’t want them to cry, and it hurts us to see them disappointed. So we’ll do anything in our power to make sure.... what? To make sure they are never unhappy?
But we are also the generation that knows we are instilling beliefs and values into our children by how we live. We can’t offer them the Suck it up, life’s hard line, it goes against a deeper truth we are aware of. Life is full of infinite possibilities, it is possible to live our dreams and dance like no one is watching. It’s our generational mantra. It’s also something carved out for ourselves. We can’t do it with our Mommy holding our hand, taking anyone down who gets in our way.
What we often forget is that the more we try to make everything fall into place for each of our children’s smallest wishes and desires, the more we try to push ahead for them, the more we create a message that says “you can’t do this without me.” The more we stop the tears of disappointment with promises to always make it alright, solidifies the idea that what the want is the only way it can go, without any openness to what could come as pleasant surprises.
We don’t have to be the principal of the school of hardknocks. We don’t have to administer the disappointment, but we don’t have to prevent it either. We can build up our children’s sense of self value and their life time tools by reminding them that, yes, things might not be going their way, they might not be getting what they want, but what they are getting might turn out better than they could ever imagine.
                My daughter took the role. She had rehearsals with people other than her friends and she seized her offered moment as a gift, rather than an insult. She rose to an opportunity, while I know I would have turned it down flat at her age. I would have been determined to have what I wanted and nothing but. Her opening night was last night and she came out of the theatre laughing and happy. She’s met new friends, had an amazing first performance and decided the role she thought she had wanted wouldn’t have really worked for her. She’s friends with the director and is looking forward to many more performances. Better yet, she’s grown in her perception of herself and how to be herself at the same time as letting life offer her chances rather than seeing them as disappointments.

Yes, there are truly times when our children become the teachers and we get to sit back and watch in awe. Our children, like ourselves,  know that life is for embracing not judging and disappointment is when we are telling the universe that it has no idea what it’s doing. But deep down we know, we may not like it, but we know: The Universe Always knows what its doing.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Art of Boredom

My boy isn’t impressed when I express pride every time he announces “I’m bored.” At five years old he’s reached a new plateau and its one that has him slightly confused. When he was a baby signs of restlessness were greeted with me singing with him, bouncing on my knee or introducing new sights or sounds. Toddlerhood had his own explorations, but sometimes I would come in to set up a new sensory table, a new activity. As he grew a little more, he looked to his sisters for amusement, getting involved in their games, getting them to play with him, trying to be twelve rather than four. He has played and played and played, frustratingly never learning or moving forward, but having quality time with his sisters. But now at five and a half, he’s wiser. He’s played great games with all of us and he wants to do more, but he’s developed preference on what he likes to play and simply joining in to other people’s stories, just isn’t cutting it. His old games and toys, don’t seem to offer amusement and so often we just won’t do what he wants us to do. So, the wail of “I’m bored” follows.
And his mother says, “I’m so glad”, and I am.
Our children aren’t bored enough now days. We as parents seem to feel it’s our job to amuse, to set up and distract. Sure, I play. I can often be found on a bed driving some imaginary bus and saving some stuffed toys from some horrible fate, but then I stop for a bit, or sit on the “bus” and read, while he rides, drives and saves. I’ll offer options, but he’s five now and my instincts have told me, it’s time to enable, but not to amuse.
Remember car trips?  Remember staring out the window for sometimes days, watching the world wiz by and imagining everything under the sun, even just swearing you’d never take your children on road trips?
Remember going shopping with our mothers, or waiting for them to get their hair done? Remember playing with our fingers, as they were the only amusement, literally, on hand?
Now, we seem to do everything in our power to make sure our children aren’t bored. We offer them toys or iphones, we offer them treats to distract them or simply get other people to take care of them while we shop, so it goes smoother and they don’t get bored, because that would be a disaster. But who is it a disaster for? Is it really that bad for them that they are bored, or is it the inconvenience for us that make us avoid it so frantically?
Boredom offers opportunity. It is our spirit’s way of saying I have room here. I have space where I can do something different. I want to try something new. I’m ready for the next adventure. Boredom says let’s try something crazy. Boredom is the imagination’s invitation to come out and play. That’s why our parents did well to offer us that tub of clay or simple blocks to compete with boredom; they are tools for the imagination, rather than amusement or distraction for it.
Our children are children at an important time. Some say that when 85% of them retire from their careers, those jobs haven’t even been invented yet. Their imaginations have to be razor sharp, yet we live in a world that can actually blunt it. Boredom invites them to find solutions to problems, even if it’s just jumping on their bed chanting I’m bored! Boredom asks them to ask themselves what they think, what they want to do, whereas computers, iphones and most toys of today tell them what to do and not to think about it.
Well my son hates being told what to do, and although he’s been allowed to experiment with a few computer games, he’s come to the conclusion that they don’t leave much room for him to make the rules. His sisters don’t like him to make the rules either. But his imagination does. His stuffed toys do.
He still might not be too impressed with my “Yay for boredom” attitude and he’s a little confused when I say, “Hey squint you eyes and watch the light dance”. But he’s getting there.
And I still will join in a game every once and awhile, as long as his amusement isn’t depending on me to play. I’ll join in for my own amusement knowing he is strong and smart enough to create his own.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being Grateful, Being Thankful book review

Life is full of moments that remind us of the power of the Law of Attraction and how it works consistently through our lives. With the mere concept of like attracting like, and us, as energy beings, constantly sending out a vibration of something or other and attracting it back again, it can often be overwhelming as we watch ourselves become the victim to our own vibrational cycle. One of the things that can stop this cycle is the feeling of appreciation and it is upon that theme which Sarah Butland has done such a lovely job. With her book, Being Grateful, Being Thankful, Sarah reminds readers of the simple things that we can all appreciate. From water that flows from the tap, to the sun that shines in the sky, to technology that is ever improving beyond our imaginations, there is so much around us that we can put our focus on and appreciate, shifting our feeling space for the better.
A thought needs to be held for 17 seconds, uncontradicted, in order to alter our vibration slightly, four sets of 17 seconds and it builds to alter our point of attraction. What Sarah does so beautifully is create an expanding version of each thing she appreciates. Rather than offering a run-off list of things to be thankful for, she creates a couple of pages, fully flushing out the item, concept or reality, so that the feeling of appreciation can be strongly felt from the reader.
Sarah offers 30 topics to feel grateful for, so it strikes me that it would serve well as a monthly challenge, reading one chapter a day and truly letting the day be filled with appreciation for that focus each day.

Being Grateful, Being Thankful is a lovely addition to a library as a reminder that we truly have a lot to appreciate.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Facebook Log off Week and the inspiration that followed.

As I mentioned last post I’ve been doing the artist’s Way by Julia Cameron over the past few weeks and the results are mind boggling. I have found myself burbling up to the surface, barely aware that so much had been gently being ignored as it was shoved under my consciousness. Crazy isn’t it?  A woman who writes under being Spiritually Aware suddenly finds out that maybe I haven’t been quite as Aware as I’ve been wanting to be. Hence the lack of posts over the past couple of years I suppose.
But like all unawareness the coming back into awareness is sublime. Like a wonderful page-turning novel I am discovering so much about Me and what I’ve expanded to over the past few years. Its like catching up with an old friend.

It is reminding me that is exactly what life is about. We are spiritual beings in a physical reality. We come here to live and often in that living we become closed off from the spiritual being we really are. If we live entirely from the Spirit perspective, we feel closed off, like observers to a movie scene. We are involved, but sometimes a little distant from the human experience. Yet, when we are unaware of the Spiritual element of life, we get so caught up in the illusion of it all, in the game that we become a victim to our own reality. Balance. The great Teeter-Totter of life.  I am back to LIVING my life, no longer distantly watching it or getting caught up in it, LIVING my day to day. CREATING my day to day and greeting the sun with a smile and a wave.

I was so excited on this new journey that I almost didn’t notice my exercises last week, until my jaw dropped. Cameron had suddenly announced the week of reading deprivation. No newspapers, no books no reading. Well that would be OK if it was twenty years ago when the book was written. Now, here in 2015... it meant no Facebook.
We run a small business. I post on SAP all the time, I email. Suddenly I found myself ponder, how was I to go Internet surfing free. I gave myself guidelines. Writing, no reading. No scanning newsfeeds, no clicking on links, only emails and posts to write. I was on for about 5 minutes twice a day. My computer wasn’t even turned on at home. I was free.
Yes, seriously. From dreading it, wondering how I could do it and horrified at my own habit, feeling like an FB junky, in a quick switch, I was free. Not only that, my posture improved, I stood straight and I focused on my family more. I could feel energy from my head to my toes and like darling Julia predicted, my thoughts were my own again.
That’s the idea. We are bombarded by thoughts all the time. We are inundated with information (plug, my husband wrote a song called Information Overload which he will be releasing on his next album, keep in touch at and it literally is forming what we think. It tells us how to see the world. Our perspective, which is really our own identity, is being formed by the information we take part in and now, in the age of the internet, we take part in more than before.  A day into my internet free week and I made a scary discovery. My emotional detachment, my sense of observing which I often had thought was a sense of spiritual awareness was none other than a symptom of information overload. Yes, I was observing life, but not for spiritual expansion, but for the postability of the event. How could I share it with others? How could I take a snapshot of the experience? Meanwhile, I was too far removed to experience it myself.
Yes, I’ve called myself back from the Facebook Abyss. I’m demanding my emotions back again. After all, yes, positive thought is the key to happiness but avoiding feeling offness cuts you off from your inner guidance system. FEELING is key to living! I needed to hear that inner voice again.

So, I enlisted one of my favourite tools. A tool I have passed on to so many. The wonderful world of Inspiration boarding. I went to my library, who had just sorted out their past issues of various magazines with very good timing, and I brought back a stack of everything from Parent Magazine to Architectural Digest. I browsed, I scanned and everything that made me feel good I cut out. Soon I had a box full and yesterday I started. My new desk I got a few weeks back had a glass top, so I carefully removed it and started scrapbooking underneath it. Nature images, quotes, pretty things, Opening French Doors with sunlight pouring in, beaches and one simple antique desk with a pulled out chair inviting me to sit down, now greets me when I sit here to create. I’ve told my children it’s my place for escape. I can visit any one of these images whenever I wish. I can imagine walking on the beach or sitting under a tree. I can do as I wish. What’s fascinating is the selection of images. As I cut them out I found myself re-introduced to my own inner self, learning I’ve grown and expanding as a person since starting the SAP site 5 years ago. That was the last time I did an Inspiration board (and from then to now a lot of what appeared on there has manifested into real life) and the difference is incredible. From my board based on cozy home life, on little children, babies, warm kitchens and comfy chairs, my new one is expansive, wide open spaces and inviting doors.  Its full of the unknown, full of adventure. It’s exciting.

So, why blog about this? Why confess to you that I, a Spiritually aware living coach, has been off lately and just connected? Because, I surprised myself with how the computer disconnected me. It blocked me. Before I went offline I read an article saying that children are actually becoming unable to recognize  human emotions through facial expressions because of screentime. It was a study performed somewhere. But I think its deeper. WAY deeper. I think we are being shut off from our emotional guidance systems. I think we are exposed to so much we are observing our lives, not as Spirit, but as.... as a viewer. We need to claim ourselves back again. Now will I be back on FB? yup. I’ll be posting and interacting. Will I scan my newsfeed and check out the Trending column, probably not. I love my FB community of SAP, it fuels me up with the interactions and people I’ve met. But I’ll also be logged off a lot more. I’ll be lying on a beach... somewhere in Spain.... or walking through a sunlit door... or walking down a bluestone path... and I won’t even have to leave my chair.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Artist's Way and the Morning Pages Process

For the past few weeks I've been taking part in Julia Cameron’s course, The Artist’s Way. It’s a twelve week course, meant to help you tap in, tune on, and let the creativity flow. After a year and a half running a food business with my family and my writing becoming less and less frequent and... well flowing... I figured it was a good idea to start. 
It’s an exciting journey. It’s a hard journey. I've still yet to take my “artist’s date”, an outing where you are suppose to do something for yourself, something to satisfy your inner child/artist. A coffee date, a movie alone, a bookstore hunt, even a bath; two hours, planned ahead, scheduled and achieved. It’s made me aware that my life is pretty jammed packed. But it’s also made me aware that if I have 2 hours alone, I’d sooner be in front of my computer or pen and paper writing, creating and tapping into the flow more than anything. This is my date. I didn’t plan a babysitter, I didn’t plan what I was going to write. I just sat here, and said “flow”.
What I am getting the most out of is the “morning pages.”; which I’m proud to say I’m doing rather religiously. Sometimes my five year old wakes up and sits beside me to do his “pages”, scribbles in his notebook which are lovely, and my daughter will sometimes do some in her diary, when she gets up in time. The idea is 3 pages, first thing or as close to as possible, handwritten about anything. Every little niggle, every little morning fleeting thought, every buried dream, every wishful thought, but mostly, those boring daily doldrums that seem to be put on repeat without us even noticing it. You know what, when you write them three days in a row you start to notice them. I’ve noticed a lot.

 So I’ve started looking for new thoughts, which suddenly means breaking down old thought processes. Suddenly, Morning Pages are miraculous. Suddenly Morning Pages need capitalization. Julia Cameron breaks it down that as long as you are doing morning pages, you are doing them right. You write them, don’t re-read them, lock them up, seal them in an envelope, burn them, whatever feels right, or like me, write them in a notebook and never look back. I don’t have the time, I’m too excited to move forward, to see what will come out in the next page. I've been sorting out things, asking questions, getting answers, Source, Universal powers, God, jumping onto the flow of words getting me messages and nudges. Yesterday I saw an Abraham Hicks quote saying that writing is the most focus a human can establish in physical reality, therefore it can quickly shift vibration, suddenly through my morning pages I’m doing visualizations, painting pictures of thoughts that make me feel good, my dream life at the moment, stories of laughing children and stress free living.

When I started my pages four weeks ago, I struggled filling my three pages. I felt ridiculous. I’m a writer. I write. I’m suppose to let lose my sub-conscious and just write the thoughts, the monkey mind chatter that is rolling by. But I’d lose focus, I’d get bored, they weren’t real thoughts. Now, I get to the end of my third page and I wonder if I’ll just flow over to four or five pages... but then my boy looks over, counts the pages I’ve done, raises his eyebrows and says Mom, I’m hungry, you’re finished. Let’s have breakfast!